When the biggest tournament of the season was cancelled, the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins didn’t let that deter them from competing one last time.
Kendal Paulson from the Moose Jaw Kinsmen Flying Fins competes in the 200m free at the Mike Mintenko Summerfest meet last year at the Phyllis Dewar pool. Times-Herald file photo
The Fins travelled 10 hours or so to get to Missoula, Mont. for the Firecracker Classic swim meet.
“I was really pleased with how we did. They all swam really well even with the altitude,” said Gord Shields, head coach of the Fins. “It was a really good positive experience for them.”
The meet in Missoula had over 600 swimmers entered and 22 local Fins went to participate.
The level of competition was high, including some US national level swimmers. That experience alone great, but also had to cope with environmental elements.
“A lot of them in the mix for A, B and C finals and there were some 10 and under that swam well,” said Shields. “Overall, this is something we can really build on — the fact that they swam well against swimmers they’ve never raced against before, it was an outdoor meet, they had to deal with the outdoor elements, the altitude affects performance.
“These were all things they had to work through, so I know from that, they will come back next year and really build on these experiences they learned from here at this meet.”
The Fins brought home 11 medals in total, which also impressed Shields, considering they went up against swimmers they had never faced before.
“That made them feel that much better about themselves,” he said.
The reason the Fins went to Montana was because the ManSask event that they usually attend at this time of the year was cancelled in Regina.
“The Lawson pool was not acceptable,” stated Shields. “So, Swim Saskatchewan was the organization that is provincial sports and governing body had to sanction the competition and they wouldn’t at the Lawson pool until repairs were made.”
Shields said that Moose Jaw looked into hosting the event instead, but couldn’t find enough volunteers.
“It is hard to get other clubs to host it because it is a three-day event,” he said. “Moose Jaw decided they wouldn’t have the manpower to host it, so the meet did get cancelled.”
After ManSask got cancelled, Shields became looking online for other close meets. He came across this Missoula meet and spoke with the swimmers and parents, who were all excited about the opportunity.
“That is the meet (ManSask) we have been building for. I knew that was going to be the meet that the swimmers would be ready to perform at, so that’s why I wanted to find a meet like this in Missoula — a high level competition and let them race their best,” Shields stated. “I know the experience they gained is going to be huge for them and their future swimming careers.”